He is the man behind I Am The Doorway Dollar Baby Film.
SKSM: Could you start with telling me a bit about yourself? Who are you and what do you do?
Matthew J. Rowney: Yeah so obviously my name is Matthew Rowney, born and raised in England, film director and enthusiastic film fan. With big aims and ambitions. Over the last few years, I’ve been lucky enough to work with some very talented people – from the best up-and-coming talent, to working with renowned directors and actors. I’ve enjoyed my journey so far, whether it be on a no budget film or on a mainstream drama such as Downton Abbey.
SKSM: How did you find out that King sold the movie rights to some of his stories for just $1? Was it just a wild guess or did you know it before you sent him the check?
Matthew J. Rowney: So prior to this project I had made 13 short films, “The Red Zone” which was my first online web series, consisting of 8 online short films, then it was followed by 4 one off drama pieces. The last being a short called “One Shot” which accumulated close to 100,000 views online and picked me up my first online awards, so at that point as a film maker I am thinking “what next?” everything I had done was an original idea, and as I wanted to stress that I am fundamentally a Director I started looking for already formed ideas that I could bring to life. With a bit of research I stumbled across the dollar baby scheme which I had actually heard of a few years prior, only this time I looked into it. The rest is history.
SKSM: When did you make I am the doorway? Can you tell me a little about the production? How much did it cost? How long did it take to film it?
Matthew J. Rowney: So late 2013 I acquired the rights to Stephen’s short story I am the doorway, scripting took about 4 months, I had a writer, Ross Lanchester, who did the first few drafts, and then a few others and then myself reworked it till we had the perfect script I wanted to shoot. The next step was too cast, I was blessed with great actors, their experience and talent have really made this film.
Filming then started in January 2014, and was wrapped in September time. We did day shoots spread out throughout the year in a range of different locations. The whole film was self funded, as for an exact figure lets say 4 digits.
At the end of filming I had a day in a studio with Isabelle Allen (Les Miserable & BBC’s Guin & the Dragon) recording lines for the alien, that was a great day and has added so much to the film, and Izzy was fantastic to work with.
Then we’ve spent the last 6 months editing and grading, having the film scored and making sure its of a top level for release.
SKSM: How come you picked I am the doorway to develop into a movie? What is it in the story that you like so much?
Matthew J. Rowney: There is quite a selection, 32 shorts I think? I did sit and read a fair few of them, mainly the synopsis. I wanted to pick one that I knew would be achievable on a shoe string budget and still be awesome for my audience to watch. When I started reading “I Am the doorway” I knew pretty much straight away that this was the one. The sci-fi element pulled me in, but it was fundamentally the human struggle that I imagined would be fun to bring to the screen.
SKSM: Are you Stephen King fan? If so, which are your favourite works and adaptations?
Matthew J. Rowney: I am yeah. I grew up on comic books rather than novels though, which means I have only read a small fraction of his work. But as a film fan I obviously have seen and loved many of his ideas, ‘The Shining” “Shawshank Redemption” ‘Misery” the list could go on and on, so yeah I consider myself a fan.
Funnily enough the television adaptation “Under the Dome” started as I was starting on this film, and it had some similar themes, the contrast in age and how people deal with the extraterrestrial threat.
SKSM: Was there any funny or special moment when you made the movie that you would like to tell me about?
Matthew J. Rowney: The whole process was fun. Working with the actors is what I really do this job for, and there were some hilarious moments. During one of the flashback scenes a pigeon landed on one of our actors that doesn’t happen every day. When you enjoy the process and have a strong love for the script you are making the laughs tend to come with that, as corny as that sounds. James Chisholm, the Director of Photography, teaming up with him and being creative and collaborating was a great experience, he has a very similar taste to me in films but I think a different creative aesthetic eye so it was great fun discussing the best options and composing the film in a way that could be identified as my work but had a fresh feel too it.
I mean I think there’s about 24 people I got involved in this film every single one of them has made me laugh at some point and every single one delivered and made the film better.
Special moments, the moment the prosthetic eye was attached to, Greg Patmore’s (Hatfield and McCoys) hand, seeing him in the wheelchair and in costume was great. It was actually the last shoot. So I had been waiting.
Filming the chase scene in the New Forest with Oli Reynolds and Ellie Taylor Roberts was good fun, both being new comers to the industry, this was the scene really where they really brought the A game and delivered some incredibly emotional performances, the sun was out too so on the whole a fantastic day of filming.
Then the space scenes, very cool, working on Arthur’s big possession moment, with Shefali Chowdhury (Harry Potter) and Luke Brandon Field was incredible.
That was really suck up to my team answer, but it’s true they are great.
SKSM: What can we expect from I Am the doorway?
Matthew J. Rowney: The film is 30 minutes long, essentially split into 3 stories. The story of Arthur, the ex-astronaut, its really the story line that is lifted from the source material. The Second story being Young Arthur, flashbacks and an insight into what happened in space all this years ago. Then Richard’s plot is through the eyes of the younger audience, this story is really where I expanded on the story and have tried to add depth to the amount of people it has an impact on. The core is really about how people would react to life beyond this planet. On top of this we have a fab cast and plenty of characters I hope audiences will love. There’s slight comic relief but it has as expected with Stephen King some pretty dark moments. I’d like to believe there is something in it for everyone, the King fans will hopefully revel in the from page to screen moments whilst others can just enjoy the story and not think twice about it’s history. Something quite cool I did was lay easter eggs in the film, small props or signs that refer to other King work and his universes, there’s definitely a leaflet for the Overlook Hotel (shining) on a table at some point, small things like that are thrown in for fans. But at the same time its not a love letter to Stephen its its own film.
SKSM: Do you plan to screen the movie at a particular festival?
Matthew J. Rowney: Short answer Yes. In a nutshell the reason I make films is for people to watch. I have already got a couple dozen lined up, so we will enter the British festivals first, a good few Canadian ones, and then see what else there is. The more festivals the better, the more people that get to see it then. There’s also a little premiere being arranged for cast, crew and families so i’ll get to see it on the big screen.
SKSM: How does it feel that all the King fans out there can’t see your movie? Do you think that will change in the future? Maybe a internet/dvd release would be possible?
Matthew J. Rowney: Well I personally am already working on that, distribution rights can be acquired after the film is made, Stephen does have various ways of allowing these productions to be seen. But like I said there will be screenings and festivals. Not to mention our 2 minute trailer that will be hitting the net soon.
SKSM: What “good or bad” reference have you received on your film?
Matthew J. Rowney: The whole process has been great. For me personally it’s allowed me to grow as a film maker, using a professional editor, Peter Hills, getting it graded and mixed in state of the art London studios, having it scored by Alex Lamy, who’s worked with the likes of Hans Zimmer. Having people like this on the film makes my job easier and teaches me a lot more about film making.
I’ve already had some great feedback from industry level producers, it’s managed to gain 7k fans online and has really increased my personal following online. So all good, lets see what people say once they have seen the film.
SKSM: Did you have any personal contact with King during the making of the movie? Has he seen it (and if so, what did he think about it)?
Matthew J. Rowney: So you receive a good luck letter at the start but thats it and I obviously will send him a copy after. Hopefully get a well done. I read somewhere that the Night Shift book was a collection of stories that he never really developed into full length novels. That is how I see it, myself and my team have taken the idea and made it our own. Hopefully staying true enough to the plot and it’s characteristics but telling our own version.
SKSM: Do you have any plans for making more movies based on Stephen King’s stories? If you could pick – at least – one story to shoot, which one would it be and why?
Matthew J. Rowney: “The Boogeyman” was my second choice, well at first I was thinking has to be that one, but then you research the Dollar babies and realise theres been dozens made, I picked “I Am the Doorway” because I believe prior to myself one version had been made, and since a few others now. None of which I think have the same tone or approach as my film which is good. It was important that mine had my stamp on it and wasn’t just a carbon copy of what had come before.
I don’t have an immediate plans to adapt any King stories, but never say never, I have really enjoyed it so why not? He is a great writer.
SKSM: What are you working at nowadays?
Matthew J. Rowney: So I have two more short films, sketches really, coming out over the summer, accompanied by the 2minute trailer, then “I Am The Doorway” will hopefully surface next winter. I am currently in Pre-production for my next film which is called “Tomorrow’s Guardian” and will be my first crack at a comic book movie. No doubt there will be other bits and bobs I fit in as well.
SKSM: Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions. Is there anything you want to say to your fans?
Matthew J. Rowney: Thanks for your patience, and the film will be available soon too watch. Hope it’s worth the wait.
SKSM: Do you have anything you’d like to add?
Matthew J. Rowney: Thank you to Stephen King I guess for agreeing to set up this scheme, and thanks to everyone involved. And thank you for taking an interest. Obviously look up “I Am The Doorway UK” on facebook and give us a like be great to reach 10k fans. And if you want to keep up with me I’m on Instagram “mjrowney”. Thanks.